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How To Delete Apps That Won’t Delete On Mac


  • Open Activity Monitor: Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor > click app > X > Force Quit. Try deleting again.
  • Use uninstaller app: Drag the troublesome app onto uninstaller > confirm deletion.
  • Command line: Applications > Utilities > Terminal > sudo rm -rf > drag app into Terminal > Return > Mac password

Typically, deleting an app on the Mac involves dragging the app to the Trash. This article explains three ways to delete apps that won’t delete using that method.

Use an Uninstaller to Delete an App on a Mac
When you first install apps on your Mac, you usually do it using a specialized program called an installer, which comes with the app download. Similarly, you can use an uninstaller when you need to delete an app, especially one that won’t delete.

There are two kinds of uninstallers: ones that come with the apps you install and can only remove that app and all-purpose uninstallers that remove any app.

If the app you want to delete includes an uninstaller, you’ll find that uninstaller in that app’s folder. Simply launch the uninstaller and follow the onscreen instructions.

If the app you want to delete doesn’t have an uninstaller, use a third-party tool (for these instructions, we used AppCleanerBut there are several other good uninstaller options available for the Mac). Here’s what to do:

  • Once it’s installed, open AppCleaner.
  • Follow the instructions for uninstalling an app. In this case, drag the app from the Applications folder onto the uninstaller window.

TIP: A number of Apple-made apps come installed with macOS, like Safari, Mail, Contacts, or Time Machine. We recommend that you don’t delete those apps since some features or tools may rely on them.

  • Review all of the files that will be deleted. Deleting apps this way is great because it deletes not just the app but all related files throughout your Mac, including preference and configuration files you never knew existed.
  • Click Remove to delete the app.

Use the Mac’s Terminal App to Delete an App
If using an uninstaller can’t delete an app, there’s another option: using the Terminal. This requires a bit of technical savvy and isn’t for novices, but it can work.’

Know That: Deleting apps using the Terminal app is simple and powerful. However, it’s also risky; mistakes can cause major problems for your computer. Only use this option if you know what you’re doing.

  • To use the Terminal’s command line to delete a troublesome app, follow these steps:
  • In your Mac’s Applications folder, click Utilities, and then double-click Terminal to launch it.
  • Type sudo rm -rf.

TIP: Other articles about this topic say the command sudo uninstall file:// is the way to delete apps. It’s not. That command doesn’t work on Macs.

  • Drag the app you want to delete from your Applications folder onto the Terminal window. This will enter the app’s location on your Mac, which the Terminal app needs to know to delete the app.
  • Press the Return key.
  • Enter the password you use to log onto your computer.
  • The file is deleted. There is no message or confirmation; it’s just gone.

TIP: Not every app on your Mac can be deleted from the command line. It also only deletes the app, not any files that come with it. If the app you want to delete can’t be deleted this way, try one of the other options in this article.

How to Delete an App That Won’t Close on a Mac
In some cases, you can’t delete an app on your Mac because the app is running and refuses to close (even with File > Quit or by typing Command+Q). In that case, there are two ways to quit the app so you can try to delete it.

  • The simplest way to quit an app that won’t close is to use the Force Quit menu. Just click Apple menu > Force Quit > the app you want to quit > Force Quit.
  • If that doesn’t work, then the app is still stuck and glitching and needs a more powerful option. That’s where Activity Monitor comes in.
  • Activity Monitor is a utility that comes pre-installed with macOS that lets you see every app, process, service, and other activity running on your computer, including lots of things running in the background, hidden from you (don’t worry, they’re supposed to be hidden). It also provides a powerful force quit tool.

Here’s how to use it:

  • Go to Finder > Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor and double click it to launch the app.
  • Scroll through all of the processes that are running or search for the name of the app that won’t quit. It will likely be highlighted in red and say Not Responding next to it.
  • Click the app you want to quit so its row is highlighted, and then click the X icon.
  • Click Force Quit.

The app should now be closed. Try deleting it with the usual steps or with an uninstaller like in the first section.

TIP: There are two other helpful troubleshooting tips to consider: restarting your Mac and installing available macOS updates. Neither of these options will specifically fix an app that won’t delete, but they’re good, general fixes for many issues and are worth a try if nothing else has solved your problem.

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